SEDALIA, Mo. - As farmers descended upon Sedalia for the Missouri State fair's opening day Thursday, this difficult summer was the dominating topic.
"We haven't had any rain lately and so we've been having drought," said 10-year-old Clint Bailey. "The plants have dried up and the grass has gone yellow."
Clint Bailey has heard his father Ryan talk about the weather all summer long.
"We've been very dry. As dry as in 30, 40 years. Maybe longer," said Ryan Bailey.
He has a 125-head cattle operation near Curryville in eastern Missouri. Bailey's situation is typical of many Missouri farmers.
"There's very little grain out there, and most of it's being used for forage because of the lack of hay and we're having to feed a lot sooner with the cattle," said Bailey.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon kicked off the fair's opening Thursday, and said he feels farmers' pain.
"Missouri is number two in the country in cow-calf operations. It's an important part of the economy, and we saw a need to do something and do something quickly," said Nixon.
That's why the state has spent close to $19 million to help more than 3,700 farmers dig wells. The cost-share program funds 90 percent of each project and keeps livestock healthy.
Nixon said more ranchers still need help. He said there is a waiting list of at least 2,000 ranchers and the state wants to help them all.
"We will find the resources to make sure those farm operations are in business," said Nixon.
Ryan Bailey's operation is hurt, but he is optimistic he can still make money this season.
"It just depends on the prices," he said. "We know there's a lot of cows hitting the market right now which has lessened the value of the cow, but if we can hold in there for a while, the cattle prices will maybe be pretty good."
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